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tv   [untitled]    August 27, 2010 10:30pm-11:00pm PST

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will say, being in architecture and construction myself, i think it is a beautiful building, but ask the commissioners to please consider to not let this project be the first one to go down in your history is granting three variances on one project. we asked for a building that honors the zoning. we ask for a building that is compliant. the developers have left the resources to go back and design something beautiful that has been in the architectural and history context for the neighborhoods. thank you for your time. >> i would like to speak to the -- what i would consider the bait and switch nature of the alternatives that were presented where it seems like all of the alternatives had some very good suggestions in them, that they address some of the shortfalls and weaknesses of the proposed projects, but we got
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the switch, and every time, we went back to what the sponsor one it as their base project. typically, i work with some of these projects in terms of the eir's their alternatives, and they were always used in a collaborative process to make a better product, taking some of the best things from the alternatives to make a better project. specifically, alternative b, which is the compliance with planning code. it is approximately the same density and square footage of the project sponsor, but it is a less bulky building and the residential neighbor's perspective. there is setbacks and steps into the buildings on all four sides , and you would not need an extension of the boat limitation, but for some reason, the sponsor chose to put in a punitive poison pill and to take away the open space on the ground floor when they have no
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reason to. they are building the same amount of square footage. they put in a punitive -- something to take away from the residence, and it put in an open space on floors 9 and 18, which really is not public open space by any practical measure. same thing with alternatives. reduce project alternatives, to identify the draft eir is the environmental superlative, and it is 152% for 115,000 more square feet than what was previously approved for this exact project site. again, they reduced the corner area ratio from 18.1 to 13.6 to 1. they reduce the traffic impact and significantly reduces the shadow impact on the -- at yerba buena and it takes away all the proposed shadow at the transit center city parks and reduces
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wind impact. there is still some unmitigatable traffic impact, but they say the return on investment is not acceptable to the project sponsor. and that is not supportive of purely a subjective statement -- that is a purely subjective statement that is not supported by documentation as to why that return on investment is not there. this alternative by staff is not promoting the city's in final policy. it is completely unsubstantiated because this alternative has been identified as the environmental superior alternative. the project would still be legal, and the project would be 52% more square footage than has previously been approved for this site. the preservation alternative, again, was rejected. it has no impact on the square footage and has no impact on how many hours union construction workers are going to be set able to spend working on this project, and we discussed the
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aesthetic impacts from the neighbor's perspective. new rezoning alternatives, switches the bulk of the structure shifting away from existing structures and residences. and the staff comments the lack of flexibility on design without providing any examples to support this objection. same thing going back to alternative c. they took the parking component out of alternative c and then said that it is not competitive with the office buildings because it does not have parking. well, who told them to take the parking lot? again, they just put a poison pill in the alternatives and make it less appealing to incorporate some of the aspect of that alternative. again, the alternatives reflecting planning code compliance are frequently
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referenced in the documents as being in feasible due to economic reasons, but this is solely the presentation of the project sponsor. thank you. commissioner miguel: is there additional public comment on this item? >> i would like to expand on the safety aspects. i would like to expand on the safety aspect of this building. after our last hearing, one of the commission is mentioned that she had concerns about the safety of children in this neighborhood, the families that live within 1,600 feet of this proposed project, and she even mention that she sees kids going
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on field trips, holding each other by the hand, and the reason for that is that we are blessed, we are between two great parks -- yerba buena an dsouth park. that explains the children, in strollers, field trips, etc. it is the fact that traffic volume causes injuries, and district 6, as i mentioned before, has the highest incidence of pedestrian injury in san francisco. traffic is already a nightmare. this project will bring 1640 new workers into the neighborhood. given the fact that the number of children under the age of nine that go to the various preschools i mentioned earlier, that 15% of the 10 buildings have children -- i'm sorry, that 15% of each building has
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children, each is irresponsible to allow this project to go on. imagine the case that impact on traffic cannot be mitigated -- we disagree. the smaller building, the same height involved as the immediate surroundings buildings will mitigate the impact of traffic. we have said from the beginning we have nothing against anyone building on this side. all we are asking and what we want you to ask is a code- compliant building. -compliant building, the same size as the adjacent structures, would be a much better neighbor for all of us. thank you. >> good morning -- good afternoon, commissioners. i think this project shows how difficult it is for transitional
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neighborhoods to determine what should be the overriding consideration. i will tell you that san francisco invited my family and myself and my neighbors to move downtown and spend the money and raise our families and used car share and transit and work and live in the same place, contribute back with property taxes, sales tax, supporting local businesses, and we were happy to take that invitation based on the rule book that was presented to us. here are the rules for zoning. here are the rules for wind, shadows. we said ok, we will take this invitation and move in. he did not say we will stop when a project sponsored does not want to follow those rules anymore. it is an important and difficult
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decision for you to make. i agree with the previous speaker that a new office building, a new building of any kind is a miracle in san francisco right now. i'm going to suggest to you that it would be just as much of a miracle if it followed the code. i would welcome a building on this side, especially one that followed the rules. if there were a grocery store included, i would probably come down here and cheerlead for it. it is an important consideration to have a building on that lot. we just want one that works for our neighborhood and our community. commissioner miguel: thank you. >> good afternoon, commissioners. i want to talk a little bit to you this afternoon from the perspective of the corporate occupier and the users of these buildings. i am part of a practice that represents large corporate users
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in san francisco. i work with other users in san francisco, who you probably know are a rare commodity for this city, users who are building and adding jobs and who need space and contribute to the tax base. from someone who has been involved with san francisco since 1987, how special that group of corporate citizens are, maybe a little counterintuitive to think about a building being -- coming forth and being asked for approval in a market cycle that is down where the nadir of the cycle, and we have a lot of economic challenges in front of us. i can tell you that the users that are growing in san francisco, like sales force, are looking for opportunities to expand their footprint, and when
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you are talking about users like sales force or xanga that are in the social media, cloud- computing space, they are growing rapidly. they are looking for space years in advance, so they can see rates that are high. i noticed people mentioned how much space there is or space that has been approved and have not been built. when you are looking for two, -- 200,000, 300,000, 400,000 square feet, you are looking two five years out and thinking about what side is entitled that i could execute on with minimal risk, and squeezing out the risk is so important to a corporate occupier. they do not want to have to wait and wonder if the project is going to be completed. when you think about how many projects are actually ready to be built in san francisco, it is very few that are of scale. i would encourage you to
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approve this project because it adds another opportunity to retain your existing growing tenants and to recruit those tenants that are outside san francisco that are looking for homes. this is an outstanding project that can deliver on that score, so that is my suggestion and recommendation. thank you. >> commissioners, i am president of the mark company in residential real-estate market sales, and i speak as a presidential expert. i have the marketing and selling condominiums in san francisco for 20 years. in 20 years, every single project i have worked on if either adjacent to or across the street from a commercial building. it is the urban fabric. i think it is what draws people to soma. i find that when someone comes
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in, often, it brings life to the streets. not until foundry square was built did we finally have a decent cup of coffee. this is right now a vacant lot, as you know. i think it is a question of safety. we have people in our office to keep their cars at sunset in the wintertime because of the open lot. the public space that will be added is also vital to people in the area. for our office alone, we used marathon plaza, and other public spaces for meetings, for places to eat. with 2000 people added to the building, we have a lot of buyers. right now, we are marketing 1 hawthorne, a short walk away. many of our buyers come from within walking distance. they like to not use their cars
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all week, so i do think this would change the neighborhood for the better, and it also really does help values in the neighborhood. really, that is what i would like to say, including that i strongly support this building as it is. thank you. commissioner miguel: thank you. >> my name is greg patterson. i am a fifth generation san franciscan, and i have young kids. i thank the commissioners for this opportunity to speak. as a fifth generation san franciscan, in talking with my grandparents and other people who grew up in the city and have been disappointed at the way some things have developed and delighted at the way other things have developed, i would encourage you to take a very close look at who has spoken
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today. there is a lot of excitement about people who have an immediate stake and you as holdsers of the flame of the character of san francisco will hopefully look beyond this economic gain and short-term jobs, all of which are valuable. i'm not discouraging building there, but like others, we would encourage wise construction, wise design that fits this space that blends in with the historic district. and i brought a picture so i can put it up. i'm not sure how to -- a number of years back there was a residential parking permit that was put in in a few of the
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allies nearby because the -- alies or the planning commission because the supervisors were a little shocked to understand how this is a mixed-use area in terms of families and residents. it is mixed-use. and it's part of the magic of the area. but you can take away that magic by putting in a fortress, putting in something that dominates and takes over and shuts down the energy in the area. so put something in, but put something in that makes sense. what is shown here, the red spot, is the proposed building. the green spots are just a fraction of the residential buildings in the area, many of which immediately surround this new project. the purchase pell box -- looks -- purple box which i drew much smaller than it should be, is just a rough representation of
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the historical area. there are not many areas downtown where there's an opportunity to maintain -- actually a new hub of energy and excitement. this area is being cleaned up. it's improving. you've got downtown through second street, historic area, down to the ballpark. you've got down to the waterfront to the embark darrow. full so many street is expected with the terminal to become folsom boulevard with calf face, and this is a unique opportunity to attract people. but fit's going to be an office, let it be one that's inviting. fit's not going to be an office, let it be something else. simple mistakes with make a big difference. the scenic building was built and encroached on the sidewalk area and somehow no one noticed until after it was done.
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now between the streets and the buildings on two sides of the block you have to -- if you're walking by with a stroller you have to stop and squeeze people by because you can't get through. you can't walk two people in a row there. so seemingly small mistakes can dramatically increase the people flow. what's going to happen when you have a building that totally dominates the light, the space, the energy, the color and the character of the area? i guess i would ask, when your grandchildren are born in the city and their grandchildren and are walking around, they're going to say well, my grandparents helped approve the building on this corner that really magnified the character, that added flavor and pride to this area of the city that was once connected to rincon hill
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as most of the most fabulous areas before the fire. what are they going to say? i'm embarrassed that my grandparents allowed this monstrosity to be put in here, or are they going to say i'm really proud, that really it's a commercial building but it didn't damage the energy flow and the lives of the people who live there. so with all due respect, that's my request. and as a business person in san francisco as well, i understand the need to drive profits and attract attention and the importance of the tax base, but let's keep a long-term view. thank you. president miguel: thank you. >> president miguel, other commissioners, my name is john rocca and i'm with the ironworkers local 377 here in san francisco. i, along with my other fellow trade unioners or building trade members are very much in
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support of 222 second street project. i just want to bring back a little history. you know, back 22, 23 years ago when the marriott was being built, they called that the jukebox. now people are calling this the fortress. well, i don't agree with the fortress term, but i think the way they've scaled back buildings, they let more light in and diminish casting any shadows. so we need these jobs for our members and, again, the building trades is in support of this project. thank you. president miguel: thank you. >> good afternoon members of the commission, my name is christopher meade and i'm a resident of 246 second street. i'd like to say straight away that like many of these
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speakers, i completely acknowledge the right to develop this area. i bought my unit in 246 knowing that that was a possibility. but i think what i also expected was that it would be built according to code, that it would be built -- that it would be a building that would maintain the spirit, the historical quality of the area that share air and sunlight with the neighbors and that respect the literally hundreds of families that now live very close to this building. i really think that's important. this is now a very mixed-use area. and if people are serious about putting up a building here, i still don't understand why it can't be within code, except the only explanation that i've heard to date is basically
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corporate greed. that's the only words that i think fit the situation. and i really don't think that is a justifiable reason for the city of san francisco to overturn these very carefully thought-out planning decisions and planning codes that are being developed over many years. so i'd ask you respectfully to send this plan back to the planning department and to the developer and encourage them to come back with a building that actually meets the current code . thank you. president miguel: thank you. good good evening, commissioners. i'm here on behalf of the labors local 261 to speak in favor of the proposed project, 222 second street. we've recently reached two milestones.
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one with the approval of the hunters point shipyard and the other was the transbay terminal. aside from all the positive benefits that were mentioned from previous speakers, such as being built a stone's throw away from a major transit terminal, there's the job, job opportunities not only for local residents, but in an economy such as this, it's what's lacking. so i urge you to approve this project. in conclusion, i wanted to just thank -- it's unfortunate he left, but commissioner lee for his service and i wish him the best on his new endeavors. thank you. president miguel: thank you. >> commissioners, my name is
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victor gonzalez. i'm an owner at 199 new montgomery. we haven't heard much from that building, which is actually closer to the project than any other project. this did come before -- i sit on the board, h.o.a. board. it did come before us. the board decided to take no position on this project, and i'm just speaking as an individual. and my unit looks right at the building and obviously would be blocked in some regards by it. but 10 years ago, if we think about context, there was no neighborhood here. there was barely a soma starting, it was called south of the slot. when i was growing up it was referred to as the wine country. the stadium was constructed and things started moving. the c-net building, the marriott building, 246 second street, and my interest is in getting the neighborhood to a more mature state. and this is one of the last
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remaining parcels to do that. we have the transbay, we have the high-speed rail that may or may not happen. we have ironically 201 second street across the street that you've approved for a high-rice residential. we have the mosconi center that probably will expand. we have s.f. moma that will expand. 149 new montgomery, which is approved right across the street for residential. we have even the palace hotel that may or may not get condominiums approved. and with all of those things, that neighborhood -- our neighborhood will be "developed." of course, there will be more changes, but we're in a transitional stage right now. as a neighborhood it's really only been 10 years with residential down there. the residential is great. you see people walking their dogs. you heard mention of kindergartens. you see life on the weekends. ironically a lot of people who work in this building will also live in the neighborhood. so to me it's part of building a neighborhood. i think the exceptions are
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relatively minor, and if you were to build a project strictly by code you'd have a worse building and not a better building. and that's the reason that you ask for exceptions. and ironically i think a building half the size would still have -- generate a lot of the complaints about light, shadow and view, because half the size would also block my view. so anyway, i'd just like the neighborhood to get on with itself and let's finish. thank you. president miguel: thank you. is there additional public comment on this item? public comment is closed. commissioner moore. commissioner moore: i'd like to ask architect fifer to explain to the commission why you think, personally speaking, the taller building is indeed better relative to the architect you're intending to do, and could you comment of how the code-compliant building does or does not realize the
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architect's vision? i think the project is very interesting, and could you please explain if your architectural vision can only be realized in the non-code-complying building. if you could step to the microphone and explain that to us. thank you. >> i think that when you look at the rendering of the building, i think that all of the setbacks have been made and really add the appropriate scale to the building. of course you could make a lower building. of course you could change its proportions. but i don't see anything in the proportions of this building that would arm the scale of the neighborhood. commissioner moore: i appreciate your comment. i think that's a great comment,
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it's an honest comment and i appreciate you saying that. one other quick technical question. relative to the -- what did i say? maintaining that building. glass buildings, as you know, are hard to maintain. the detailing is complicated. what do you see yourself relative to that being an issue? >> you know, glass buildings are kind of a reflection of our time. i think we live in a time now where we can build and make buildings look light and transparent and add to the kind of modern city. i think cities are vital when they have all different styles. i don't think there is just one style. i think we live in a moment when we should express buildings about our time in our place and our generation with our values of openness and accessibility. and i think those were different from the times when maybe some of the historic
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buildings were built. and i think cities become vital when you have both, particularly buildings that can open themselves to the street now, that can have large panes of glass that begin to accept the life of the city in them. in terms of the maintenance of glass, i think that's a very easy thing to do now, with swing stages, with glass cleaning. i just don't think that that's an issue in how buildings shall maintained today. commissioner moore: thank you. i wanted to ask a quick question for architect manus. there were several people in the audience, and i don't know one way or the other, nor do i want to put you on the spot. but you are a technical architect as well. there were questions expressed regarding foundations, including potential proximity issues with some of the structural elements regarding transfer -- transbay terminal and tunnels, etc.. could you ju

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